Is Glue Made From Horses? How They Actually Make Glue

Humans have been using animals to manufacture glue for thousands of years. The oldest glue ever made contains a collagen material that comes from certain animals. There’s even an old saying about horses being “sent to the glue factory” when they grow too old or when they need to be put down.

So, is glue made from horses? Glue is made from horses, particularly from their hides, hooves, bones, and connective tissues. That is because horses have a large amount of collagen in their bodies which is the key component for making animal-based glue. The glue made from horse hooves has some properties that make it ideal for use with wooden surfaces.

Keep reading to learn more about animal-based glues and their benefits as well as how horses were used to make glue.

What Is Animal-Based Glue?

glue and horse to answer is glue made from horses

Animal-based glue is an adhesive that’s made from collagen taken from some animal parts. These animal parts include the skin, bones, tendons, hooves as well other kinds of tissues.

Collagen is a key component in most animal glues, as it can be made into a gelatin that’s sticky when wet but hardens when it dries.  In fact, the word collagen itself derives from Greek κόλλα (Kolla) which means ‘glue’ and the suffix gen which means ‘producer’.

This practice of manufacturing animal-based glue from collagen has been going on for thousands of years and the process has significantly developed over time.  In addition to being used as an adhesive, animal-based glue has been used for coating and sizing, in decorative composition ornaments, and as a clarifying agent

The animal that’s mostly used for its collagen is the horse. However, other animals are used including cattle, rabbits, and fish.

Why Are Horses Used to Make Glue?

The main reason horses are used to make glue is that they’re large, muscled animals and they have a huge amount of collagen in their body which is the key component for making animal-based glue. However, the glue that’s made from horses isn’t generally better or stickier than other kinds of animal-based glues.

Collagen can be found in the connective tissue of horses as well as their hides, bones, and hooves. The glue that comes from the hooves is the most popular because it has some properties that make it ideal for use with wooden surfaces such as being able to glue two pieces of wood together without leaving any visible marks.

Horse glue is mostly produced in France as well as other European countries. There are also several factories in Canada.

Are Horses Killed to Make Glue?

Horses are not killed to make glue. In fact, it’s against the law in the United States to sell horses to be commercially slaughtered for any purpose.

A federal law was passed in 2007 to ban horse slaughter in the United States and the majority of the horse slaughterhouses were shut down that same year. This ban has been renewed throughout the years and is still in effect today.

So nowadays, manufacturers mostly rely on horses that are old, sick, or already dead to manufacture their glue.

How Is Glue Made from Horses?

The process of making adhesives from horses, or any other animal, mainly involves breaking down the chemical material in certain parts of their bodies and extracting the moisture.

The main body parts that are used to make glue from a horse are the hide, bones, hooves as well as connective tissue like muscles and tendons.

Now let’s take a quick look at how the process typically goes:

  • Step1 – The glue manufacturers must collect the animal parts from slaughterhouses or animal farms.
  • Step 2– The collected body parts must be thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt.
  • Step 3 – The bones and hooves will need to be cut down into smaller chunks
  • Step 4– The body parts are soaked in a series of water baths with increasing amounts of lime in them. This water will cause the material to soften while the acid in the lime will cause it to swell then break down.
  • Step 5 – The material is boiled until it’s liquefied, then acid is added to increase its thickness and make it gel-like.
  • Step 6 – Water is extracted from the material as it’s left to dry and cool down until it hardens
  • Step 7 – To use the glue, the substance needs to be heated until it reaches the desired consistency then applied using a brush

Are Animal-Based Ingredients Still Used to Make Glue?

Animal-Based ingredients are still used to make glue, however, most adhesives manufactured today are synthetic.

When animal-based ingredients are used, it is mostly hooves collected from cows that are slaughtered for food since the hooves contain a good amount of collagen and are not used for food. Fish and various hides also contain a decent amount of collagen so they’re usually utilized to make glue.

What Are the Advantages of Animal-Based Glue?

Although animals are not used as much to make glue these days, there are some qualities in animal-based glues that are hard to produce artificially.

Here are some of the qualities that might make animal-based glow better than glue made from alternative sources in some aspects:

  • It’s perfect for wooden surfaces as it produces a strong joint that does not wear out over time and it doesn’t leave any visible marks
  • The glue can be softened with heat. This means the glued surfaces separate again when heated and you will be able to correct any irregular fits.
  • You can apply a new layer of glue on top of the old layer without it becoming clumpy or too noticeable.

Related Questions

What Are Other Ways to Produce Glue?

Other ways to produce glue is to use synthetic materials and chemicals instead of animal-based ingredients. Most factories produce a kind of glue called polyvinyl acetate or PVA. This kind of glue is strong, durable, and can be used on multiple surfaces. It’s also cheaper to produce and easier to work with.

Is Gorilla Glue Made from Gorillas or Horses?

Gorilla Glue is not made from gorillas or horses, nor any other animal. It’s only called so because it has a picture of a gorilla on its label. It’s made from a chemical material called polyurethane. It was discovered in 1994 and it was brought into the United States to be used in the woodworking industry then it became available for public use in 1999.

What Other Products Are Made from Horses?

Other products that are made from horses aside from glue include violin bowstrings, jewelry, and paintbrushes. These products are manufactured using the horse’s long tail or mane hair. It’s mandatory for the collection method of the material to be humane since commercially slaughtering horses is illegal.

Helpful Resources

Animal Glue

Does Glue stick to parchment paper

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